Trimming and pruning are among the most important tree care procedures that every gardener should be aware of. They help get rid of diseased and dead branches, encourage flowering and fruiting, and keep the tree looking neat and attractive, longer.
However, for your tree to reap all of these benefits, the cuts must be made right. Improper tree pruning or trimming could create lasting damages or even reduce the tree’s lifespan.
Hiring the local tree experts can help you prevent irreversible chopping mistakes. But if you know the basics and have the right tools, you can prune or trim your trees and keep them in great shape all on your own. Here, we share foolproof tips for clipping a tree that guarantee healthy and aesthetically beautiful trees, shrubs and hedges.
Difference between Tree Trimming And Tree Pruning
While trimming and pruning result in proper growth and healthy plants, these two techniques differ in the primary purpose they are meant for and frequency at which they are performed. Trimming involves shaping small trees or hedges to remove overgrown branches and meet a desired shape.
Pruning, on the other hand, is performed to prevent dead or loose branches from harming people or other plants. Getting rid of excess branches also allows the tree to bloom and produce fruits effectively. It helps stimulate growth and eliminate diseased or pests infested parts that may put the tree at risk of dying too. Some gardeners also prune their trees for aesthetic purposes.
Since excessive overgrowth reduces the amount of light and moisture a plant receives, homeowners should trim their trees at least twice a year, ideally before the overgrown branches reach one foot. Pruning should be done annually and unlike trimming, it depends on the flowering cycles of the tree rather than the shrub or hedge’s appearance. The most appropriate time to prune would be winter or spring for summer flowering trees and June for spring flowering trees.
How To Trim A Tree: 5 Tips For Doing It Right
When it comes to caring for our trees, most of us can confidently do the basics – water, fertilize, and mulch – no problem. But trimming or pruning trees on your own? Well, that can feel like rocket science especially for people who are just getting started with landscaping.
Trimming small trees and branches is perfectly manageable but large, demanding tree pruning jobs should always be left to an expert. Yes, you can learn how to trim a tree all by yourself and do it right. If you are up to the task, here are 5 tips to help you make the right cuts:
1. Be Prepared
Have the right trimming tools (shears for clean cuts on thin tree twigs and loppers for medium-sized branches) and make sure they are sharp and clean. Also, spend a few minutes looking at the tree and thinking about what you wish to achieve. If you can, mark all the major branches that make up the tree structure too; this will help avoid tampering with or removing these branches.
2. Know Where To Cut
Locate the spot you want to cut. Ideally, the cut should be made slightly beyond the collar (the enlarged part under the branch that links the branch to the main stem of the tree), far enough not to chop the collar but close enough to avoid leaving a stump.
If you are cutting a thinner branch, say, one whose diameter is less that one inch, the sweet spot would be slightly beyond the collar. Make your cut at about 50° from the bark ridge (the part between the branch and the main stem that is raised just a little bit higher than the branch).
3. Consider The Weight Of The Branch
Follow the three-cut rule when clipping thicker branches; cut the branch from the underside just slightly past the collar, making sure not to go too deep, as this could cause the branch to crack too close to the stem when its weight falls, which could damage the collar.
Make another cut through the branch from the topside several inches from the cut you initially made. The branch will fall off, leaving a stub. Now, make a precise cut almost right against the collar to remove the stump. This will allow the tree to heal quickly and in a healthy way.
4. Remove Only What’s Necessary
Trim as little as possible to avoid killing the plant but as much as possible to allow good air circulation. Every cut you make on your tree compromises its protection system and puts it at risk of diseases and pest infestation. But then, leaving the tree untrimmed will cause the branches to grow close together, which can prevent sufficient circulation of air and penetration of light or nurture the growth of fungus.
To avoid stressing the plant and lowering its chances of survival, trim only what is necessary and never cut more than 25 % of your trees’ branches. If your goal is to obtain a neat or more rounded shape, just trim the branches that appear to grow at odd angles. A few cuts is all you need to achieve this. To allow air and sunlight to reach all parts of the tree effectively, remove branches that are growing toward the inside of the tree. These just cause unwanted clutter and prevent the plant from growing as it should.
5. Clean Your Trimming Tools
Always make sure to clean your trimming equipment before moving to the next tree. This is especially important if you have been cutting through diseased portions of a tree. It would probably be better to go a notch higher and rub some alcohol or any other mild household cleaner on the equipment after each cut of a sick branch before proceeding to another branch of the same plant. This will help prevent spreading diseases to the healthy parts of the tree. You should also wipe your tools with a disinfectant-soaked cloth after trimming healthy trees.